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The Northern Lights Festival: Ajijic’s shining star

The 17th edition of Ajijic’s vibrant music festival, the Northern Lights Festival de Febrero, is on the horizon.

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Taking place in ten venues in Ajijic and Guadalajara, the festival offers concerts with renowned international musicians, workshops, collaborations and classes for young music students.

Among festival favorites returning this year are David Fung, Susan Hoeppner, Amalia Avilan, The Gryphon Trio and the Manhattan Chamber Players. New blood includes conductor Bradley Thachuk, virtuoso guitarist and arranger Raffi Altounian and cabaret singer and songwriter Bryce Kulak.

Highlights of the six-concert festival series at the Auditorio de la Ribera include an all-Bach concert by pianist David Fung, and a staged opera featuring four singers and the Festival Orchestra.  This sampling of some of opera’s most delicious and dramatic moments runs the gamut from the early greats through to contemporary masters.

“Cabaret” with veteran cabaret artists Patricia O’Callaghan and Bryce Kulak delves into the depths of the genre, reviving authentic classics from Weill, Satie, Poulenc, Piaf and Dietrich. Jazz is back this year, with saxophonist Richard Underhill performing with Attila Fias – an award-winning, Hungarian born jazz pianist, composer, arranger and producer. His special blend of sounds from across the globe reflects his rich and varied musical background. Also coming along to have fun with the guys will be Raffi Altounian, the guitarist from the movie “Robocop.” He is an expert in many genres: blues, Celtic, classical, contemporary, folk, jazz, jazz improvisation, Latin and rock.

This year’s Gala Concert with the Festival Orchestra – with its famous after–party for package purchasers, billeters and sponsors – is on Friday, February 15.

The outstanding violinist Grace Park will be playing Bach’s uplifting and breathtaking Concerto in E major with the Festival Orchestra, conducted by Bradley Thachuk.

The Festival Series Closing Concert on Saturday, February 23, 4 p.m. features the Festival Orchestra with appearances from soprano Amalia Avilan, violist Luke Fleming, flautist Susan Hoeppner and pianist David Fung.

If hearing chamber music in the most intimate settings surrounded by stunning scenery is for you, then check out the “Salon Series.” Three chamber concerts are scheduled in small 80-seat venues with performers such as The Gryphon Trio, Susan Hoeppner and the Manhattan Chamber Players. Concerts are at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The Premier Event this year features Canadian chanteuse Patricia O’Callaghan interpreting the sensuous, bittersweet songs of Rodrigo, Lorca, Jobim and Cohen. Her warm, crystalline voice, striking stage presence and easy connection with the audience will create an ambiance of intimacy that will serve their music and poetry beautifully. The Jazz band plays after the concert and the event includes good wines and fabulous hors d’oeuvres. This concert is a highlight of the Festival and usually takes place in a stunning location.

A special event for the first time this year is the Rising Stars Concert. Last August the organizers of the Northern Lights Festival de Febrero started an international music school in Ajijic. The Festival del Lago is an intensive two-week summer academy for advanced students. The concert will feature two chamber music ensembles that attended the 2018 academy. They will be in residence during this year’s Festival, receiving coaching and lessons from international star musicians.

The Walden Trio and the Janus Quartet will perform at the Rising Stars Concert.  Tickets are 300 pesos and all funds will go toward scholarships for the school.

Neither should patrons forget the amazing dinner concert at La Nueva Posada, scheduled this year on the Friday before all the musicians go home.

Although individual festival tickets do not go on sale until January 21 at La Nueva Posada Hotel, you may reserve them in advance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Packages are already on sale and are available from Louise Morel, the Patron’s Chair, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (376) 766-2680.

For more details about the performers and concerts, see festivaldefebrero.com.

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